On the inside, you’re full of warm-hearted gratitude for the loyalty of employees who stick around for the long haul. The question to ask yourself is whether your team knows how much you appreciate their efforts. They can’t read your mind, so celebrating employee milestones and work anniversaries is a way to showcase your positive energy and spread it around. It’s also a way to strengthen your company’s financial position, because a stronger work culture leads directly to stronger employee engagement. Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, notes that “a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.”
The negative side of the equation has plenty of alarming numbers: The absentee rate for disengaged workers is 37 percent higher than normal, and they have 49 percent more accidents and cause 60 percent more defects and errors in production. Furthermore, employees who don’t feel like their company recognizes their efforts are twice as likely to quit in the coming year, according to a 2016 study by Gallup.
An easy way to strengthen your work culture is to recognize employees on their work anniversaries. Here are 10 ways to have fun and reward your people for their loyalty.
1. Feature the Person on Your Landing Page
What better way is there to express your appreciation for someone’s years of hard work than to make him the face of your company for a while? Groundfloor Media, a Denver public relations company, does exactly that, and it obviously pays off. Named by Outside Online as one of America’s top places to work (for four years in a row!), Groundfloor Media’s loyalty to its employees conveys a brand identity focused around real people.
2. Sponsor an Exciting New Experience
Survey company 6Q celebrates employees’ long-term diligence by giving them a chance to have a whole new experience. A voucher for an unusual event — a fantasy convention or a skydiving jump, for example — can be combined with giving the employee an extra day off. The recipient will have lots to tell her co-workers about when she comes back, and the photos she takes will look great on the company’s social media page as well.
3. Personalize the Gift
Individualization is one of the top three characteristics of employee recognition, according to Gallup (with honesty and authenticity being the other two). In other words, you can’t stock up on a closet full of identical coffee mugs that say “Five Years” on them to give out during work anniversaries. Instead, offer something that demonstrates your knowledge of each worker as a unique individual. For example, set up an employee recognition and rewards platform that has a large catalog of rewards that employees can pick from.
4. Interrupt the Daily Routine
While standing up and being applauded may not be everyone’s cup of tea, fun ceremonies can occur in various brief, creative ways. Arrange for a balloon delivery to interrupt the day for employees who reach their work anniversaries. If you’re not in a big city that delivers anything from cookies to caviar, try contacting TaskRabbit and arrange for someone to come in and play a tuba solo at your worker’s desk.
5. Let Them Eat Cake
Go gluten-free if necessary, and explore the amazing art of today’s cake decorating. It’s not just for grandmothers anymore. Shock and amaze your employee with a professionally created cake in the shape of a dragon, a crystal geode or the planet Jupiter.
6. Support the Employee’s Charitable Cause
Many people have local or global causes they care fiercely about. To celebrate a worker’s loyalty in a way that has heart-level impact, take up a collection among the whole department to contribute to something the person is passionate about. You’ll improve employee productivity by showing that your company culture has an altruistic core, and you’ll polish up your employer brand as well.
7. Roll Out the Red Carpet
If your employee usually drives to work, it can be a fun (and free) treat to let her use a VIP parking space for a week, suggests Kelley Zanfardino of the HR Center for Excellence. If she typically takes the bus, you could hire a car service for her for the day and include a free cappuccino en route to work.
8. Give Coupons for Time Off
Offering workers more control over their day (and some “time for slack” as well) is a great way to express appreciation and build employee engagement, according to a Deloitte report. You can celebrate worker anniversaries with a handful of hourly coupons for time off, based on the number of years the person has worked for you.
9. Lunch With the CEO
This probably works better with small groups of employees whose work anniversaries fall within the same time period, unless your company is fairly small. Leadership consultant Christine Comaford writes that employee lunches with the CEO are “a terrific way to foster connection and safety, belonging, and mattering in your culture.”
10. Anniversary E-Cards
Who doesn’t love a fun e-card signed by their teammates? Get the team together to sign an anniversary e-card. This is a great way to get employees together to recognize an employee’s achievements and build a positive team spirit. On the day of the work anniversary, the employee will be pleasantly surprised to see a heartwarming e-card in their email inbox from their teammates. Cloud-based employee recognition and engagement platforms, such as Achievers, makes it easy for employees to participate in and receive work anniversary and birthday e-cards.
You can establish the roots of positivity in your organization today, and it doesn’t require a massive investment of time and money.